When it comes to wanton noodle, I find it so amazing that everyone becomes so passionate about which store is their favourite one. Much like chicken rice, eating and talking about wanton noodle is pretty much a national sport in Singapore.
The moment that you mention a store name, your friends will respond with “Eh, not better than this store lah! Their char siew is damn shiok”. Another one will immediately jump into the conversation saying, “Please lah, the noodle at the other store is damn springy! That one nicer!”
Going into details and comparing the texture of the chilli, springiness of the noodles, firmness of the dumpling skin, they’ll take turn in breaking down the wanton noodles and debating why their favourite store is the best in Singapore.
Eventually though they’ll arrive at this:
“There’s a legendary wanton noodle at the old Lavender hawker, but it’s closed now”
For years, this was the line that I’ve kept hearing from my friends the moment that any discussion about wanton noodles pops up. A legendary wanton noodle, created by an even more mystical hawker stall owner that would rather close their shop & retire rather than sell the recipe to other people.
To be honest I’ve always felt jealous of people who got to try the Kok Kee wanton noodle. “The sauce,” they would enthuse, “you know, that’s what they’re famous for” A sauce so unique that other stores have failed to replicate it. How would that taste? I’ve always wondered.
Fast forward a few years later, I saw a new stall popped up during one of my lunch excursions. Kok Kee, the sign says. “Wah! This is the legendary wanton noodle store, they’ve reopened!” Little did I know I was about to taste one of the best wanton noodles in my life.
I’m not gonna lie, I was overly excited when I was about to take the first bite of the noodles. I’ve literally been waiting for this moment for years. The first thing that I noted about Kok Kee is that they served their wanton noodle on plates rather than the usual bowls. I’ll circle back to why this is amazing later.
After about 1,000 shots of the wanton noodle later, I took the first bite, and immediately the flavours of the sauce hit me. I immediately understood why this place is famous. The lightness of the sauce is countered with the full blown umami that you get at the end of the bite.
The colour of the sauce is very unique compared with the other wanton noodle places that I’ve ever been to. My favourite so far is of course xx at Kovan. The wanton noodle there is much darker and sweeter compared to the sauce that is at Kok Kee. If you look closely, the light brown sauce is dotted with mixture of oil and I think essence from the char siew that they’ve cooked, making the flavours much richer.
The char siew itself was simple, it lets the sauce shines through. Sliced thinly it has a light pinkish brown colouring. Overall it’s not rich or fatty, like the one from Hong Kong 88 for example, but to be honest I prefer it this way. The portion is pretty generous, I would say, enough for their regular portion of noodle.
Another reason why I find the sauce so amazing is because of the fact that the noodle is served on the plate. The chef that prepared the dish merely tilted the plate and through experience plus feeling she measure the exact portion of sauce for each plate.
Overall I think the sauce is pretty amazing, light but packed with a punch of flavours and umami, no wonder it’s famous.
When it comes to wanton noodle, I would say that soup plays a really important part. It provides a balance to the entire dish. A good soup also shows how much the chef cares about the details in their store and overall dishes.
Through just a sip of the noodle I could tell that the chef truly cares and understands the flavours that comes with the combination of their dishes. The warm broth courses through, bringing with it hours of flavours being extracted from the ingredients. The best combination is of course (in my opinion) a combination of a bite of the dumpling and a sip of the soup.
The dumpling itself was fat with ingredients, the taught skin barely holding on to the goodness inside. It is also nicely cooked, not too hard or soft, and bursts with flavours once you take a bite into it.
All in all, other than the sauce, I think that the fried wantons were the killer in this set. Coming from a fried food aficionado, I think that they perfectly cooked the wantons. The skin are golden brown and crisp on the outside, the ingredient soft and juicy in the inside. Definitely a must order when you’re visiting Kok Kee!
Needless to say, a visit to Kok Kee was definitely the highlight to my week! I love the amazing flavour of the sauce and the unforgettable fried wantons. Is it for everyone? Probably not. I think everybody has a specific aspect that they’re looking for from their bowl of wanton noodle. I have to say that personally I can see why people love Kok Kee and judging by the snaking line outside of their stall I don’t think the excitement is going down anytime soon.
Check out Kok Kee and let me know what you guys think!